If you’ve ever played Dungeons & Dragons, I’m sure you will have come across a great number of monsters during your campaigns. Some of these are legendary and will be cautionary tales for each successive generation of player, whilst each new Dungeon Master will rub their hands with glee as their old teacher describes how each player fell to their fiendish plans. -Ahem- not that YOUR DM has ever done that to you, I’m sure…
Unless you’re a DM, you’ve never held the power of the monsters in your hands, demolishing the hoards of player characters charging towards you with nothing but hope and a “really great plan you guys, it will definitely work this time, I promise” as their armour… Until now! Meet Dungeon Mayhem: Monster Madness!
Dungeon Mayhem: Monster Madness is the second expansion for Dungeon Mayhem. It's by far the best as far as I’m concerned. Where Battle for Baldur’s Gate introduces two characters (and I suppose classes) to the game, Monster Madness brings six brand new decks of cards for players to use, as well as rules for 5 or 6 players to fully utilise these cards. As well as the expected dragon, in the form of the aristocratic Lord Cinderpuff, you can add to your roster the tricksy Mimi LeChase (the mimic), the sinister Dr Tentaculous (psychiatric mind-flayer), Delilah Deathray (the vain beholder), the lonely Blorp (gelatinous cube) and the adorable circus (owl)bear, Hoots McGoots.
How To Play
If you’ve not played Dungeon Mayhem, don’t worry. It’s incredibly simple. If you’ve never even heard of the game, what are you doing on this page? Go and read the review of the base game. We’ll be right here when you get back.
If you stuck around (or came back, hello again), here’s what you need to know in Monster Madness. You set your character’s hit point tracker and reference card to one side and shuffle your deck. Use the hit point token to set your hit points to 10 and draw three cards. On each turn, you draw a card, play a card from your hand. Then discard all cards played unless they have a little shield on them. Once your hit points hit 0, you’re eliminated until the next game.
No, really. That’s it.
In broad strokes, the cards do one or more of six things:
Attack; Defend; Play Again; Draw; Heal or; Active Mighty Powers.
Use these cards to eliminate other players and be the last player standing.
Likes & Dislikes
Like: The expansion can fit the original! This is the first time that I’ve come across an expansion that is designed to include the original game within it. I’m sure others do exist, but when I picked up Monster Madness and found the size of the box was perfectly designed to store the six previous decks AND the expansions AND had little dividers for each deck AND had a little box to store the tokens in as well, I was delighted. Good job, Wizards of the Coast.
Dislike: Player elimination rears its ugly head again. And it’s actually possible for two or three players to be eliminated and then play another round whilst the original game continues. If players gang up on one another, it can get very unfortunate very quickly.
Like: There is at least a small balm introduced for a 5 or 6 player game. Eliminated players can become vengeful ghosts, dealing minor damage to the still-living players as their turn would come around, so long as the damage wouldn’t kill the character. It at least keeps players in the game, but it is at best a sticking plaster over the wound of being eliminated.
Dislike: Some of the characters do not feel as… epic as I would like. The beholder is a classic Dungeons & Dragons monster, and many a party has been felled by it, but the card version, Delilah Deathray, doesn’t have that feel. One ability, “Praise me,” lets you draw three cards, then gives all opponents the option to “praise your greatness” or take two damage. On the first time playing against this monster, sure, this might work. But only if they’re not paying attention to your cards. Unless you specify how characters must praise your greatness, this isn’t a dangerous ability. You shouldn’t be able to avoid two damage by saying “I like your socks, Mary." A beholder doesn’t even wear socks!
Like: This isn’t necessarily a commentary of the expansions, but more on Dungeon Mayhem as a whole. This is a fantastic game to play over Zoom. If you and your opponents have a copy each, all you need to do is lay the hit point tracker in front of you and pick out the protective cards when necessary.
Dungeon Mayhem is an excellent game on its own, and Monster Madness only adds to the replayability. Where most people would have played all four originals in a single night and put the game away, now there is a lot of variety for each player to try out. The game is very well balanced for more players and certainly benefits from the expansion.
As a Dungeon Master, I have a far greater affinity with the monsters of the game. I greatly enjoy roleplaying as these characters. The kooky text on each of the cards gives a wonderful rich backstory for each one. There is no reason why Dr Tentaculous is always German, regardless of who plays them, it just works for us. It’s silly, it’s fast-paced, and the gameplay is so simple, it’s easy to pick up for anyone who plays. A friend of mine has introduced her children to Dungeons & Dragons with Dungeon Mayhem and they picked it up incredibly quickly. Many players will want to try out everyone, but you always know when you’ve found your favourite. Isn’t that right, Hoots?